[News] John Trudell: Human Being

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 9 11:08:25 EST 2015

/We worked closely with John Trudell for the first time when Alcatraz 
was occupied. A transmitter was smuggled to the island, John was given a 
crash course to get his (then necessary) FCC license to broadcast. He 
became the vehicle for the Indigenous occupiers of the island to report 
on a virtually daily basis about the occupation and their goals from 
liberated territory. (this was a fine moment in KPFA and Pacifica 
history - as it made real what self determination sounded like)./

December 9, 2015

  John Trudell: Human Being

by Michael Donnelly <http://www.counterpunch.org/author/michael-donnelly/>


    JohnTrudell_AlcatrazOccupation_AP Photo by Richard Drew

    /John Trudell at Alcatraz Occupation. Photo: Richard Drew./

    I don’t want to tell people how to remember me. I want people to
    remember me as they remember me.” —John Trudell

    “He got a fast horse. Comanche warriors made sure he got their best.
    Hoofbeats thunder through the Time Ripple, cracking open the
    curtains that divide the spirit worlds, casting sparks back our way.
    Let’s gather them up and build fires.” — Greta Montagne//

There’s a reason John Trudell is in the Counterculture Hall of Fame. 
Several reasons.

The great Santee Sioux poet/philosopher/warrior 
passed December 8, 2015 after a long bout with cancer. He was at peace, 
surrounded by family and friends; many had tirelessly helped care for 
John thru this transition. He lived a magnificent life. He was 69.

After serving in the Navy in Vietnam, John was instrumental in the 
1969-70 Alcatraz Occupation by the Indians of All Tribes. Alcatraz 
jump-started the Native Rights Movement. He went on to be a founder of 
the American Indian Movement (AIM) and became its only Chairman.

*Termination and Restoration*

    “If you can’t change them, absorb them until they simply disappear
    into the mainstream culture. …In Washington’s infinite wisdom, it
    was decided that tribes should no longer be tribes, never mind that
    they had been tribes for thousands of years.”— Sen. Ben Nighthorse

One of AIM’s greatest accomplishments on John’s watch was drawing 
attention to the odious policy of Tribal Termination 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_termination_policy> and the 
eventual rollback of Termination and the Restoration of tribal rights 
and some Native lands. AIM walked (The Longest Walk 
<https://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/timeline/546.html>) from 
California to DC and occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) 
headquarters building. While there, AIM activists discovered secret 
plans to Terminate even more tribes and blew the entire thing wide open.

John paid a serious price for his activism. His buddy Kris Kristofferson 
wrote this song Johnny Lobo 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDt_3JA4GBQ> about it.

*Later Years*

Trudell went on to become a noted environmental activist. He was 
arrested along with his roommate Jackson Browne, counterculture icon 
Wavy Gravy and 2000 others at a protest against the Diablo Canyon 
Nuclear plant in California. Famously, they somehow got a guitar 
smuggled into the men arrestees holding area and started a concert. That 
led to his friend and ally Bonnie Raitt, Holly Near and others demanding 
equal rights to a guitar for the women’s area. Yep. They got their 
guitar and concert, as well.

John was an outspoken advocate for the rights of other species. He 
quickly joined in the forest protection efforts of the 1980s and the 
effort to curtail fossil fuel use and carbon pollution. He supported the 
efforts to defend Native Fishing rights.

John became an actor in many of the seminal pro-Native movies of the 
late 20^th Century. Perhaps his most complete role was in the 
contemporary western mystery 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderheart> Thunderheart. He also was 
in the great film Smoke Signals 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_Signals_%28film%29>, based on a 
Sherman Alexie short story. And, my absolute favorite – Powwow Highway. 

*Gaian Poet/Activist*

Trudell was a gifted linguist. In his amazing 17,000-page FBI dossier, 
it becomes clear that the FBI feared his verbal skill the most. 
“Articulate” appears repeatedly.

John first started setting his poetry to music in collaboration with his 
good friend, the legendary Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. Their 
collaboration AKA Graffiti Man 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyk4HiGr3CM> is superb. Bob Dylan 
called it the best album of the year.

John’s life-long buddy Quiltman, a T’ygh longhouse drummer/singer, who 
signs Native songs on that album and John began their effort as Tribal 
Voice and set about criss-crossing Indian Country performing and doing Q 
& A with Native youth. Many young Natives see John Trudell as “the Elder 
me and my friends listen to the most.”

 From there, it all evolved into Bad Dog, with John and Quilt being 
joined by the great guitarist Mark Shark, Rocky Eckstein, Billy Watts 
and others. Bad Dog put out numerous CDs, Including the superb Wazi’s 
earlier this year. John and Bad Dog recorded up to the end – even 
recording three songs from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving.

*Hemp Activist*

Coming from a culture that has been devastated by alcohol, John became 
an early advocate for Cannabis as a healing Earth Medicine. John and Bad 
Dog performed at many pro-Cannabis events across the globe. They are 
beloved internationally.

Quickly, John saw the potential in the restoration of America’s 
Industrial Hemp industry. In 2012, he and another of his many activist 
friends Willie Nelson co-founded the Hempstead Project Heart, which 
advocates for industrial hemp as the eco-friendly alternative source of 
fiber and food.

There is so much more. I’ve barely touched on all of John’s Gaian 
activism. Suffice to say the world is a far better place because of John 
Trudell. He touched the hearts of thousands.  An autobiography is in the 

Coyote to the end, John had someone make one final post to his Facebook 
page yesterday afternoon after he passed.

It read, simply:

“My ride showed up”

“Celebrate Love. Celebrate Life”

John Trudell
February 15, 1946 – December 8, 2015

PS My dad always said, “The hardest part about growing old is your 
friends dying.” And when your friend is also your hero…

I’ve known about the illness from the beginning. One memory I’ll cherish 
is when Quiltman and I went down to the Bay Area to hang with John two 
springs ago. John was in the thick of treatment and holing up. On a 
beautiful sunny day, John, Quilt and I walked up and down Haight Street 
in silence, all lost in our memories.

It’s hard to put in words just what John means to me and the planet, as 
I’m sure it is for all John touched in his remarkable life. I’ll sure 
miss him and our far-ranging conversations.

As I noted, the world is a far better place because of John Trudell. I 
am a better human because of John Trudell.

Ride with the Wind, Brother Coyote

/*MICHAEL DONNELLY* has been an environmental activist since before that 
first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient 
Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting 
numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo at aol.com 
<mailto:pahtoo at aol.com>/

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20151209/f7515b69/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: JohnTrudell_AlcatrazOccupation_AP-Photo-by-Richard-Drew-510x287.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 41164 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20151209/f7515b69/attachment.jpg>

More information about the News mailing list